Historic coal ash cleanup settlement announced.

The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation agreed to a settlement with Duke Energy that means Duke will clean up and excavate the remaining six coal ash sites in North Carolina, including two in the Catawba Basin: the Marshall site on Lake Norman and the Allen site on Lake Wylie.

The Duke Energy 14-site coal-ash cleanup is the largest environmental cleanup in United States history. When the work is complete, crews will excavate nearly 100 million tons of coal ash and contaminated soil – enough to fill nearly 30,000 Olympic sized (50m) swimming pools.

For nearly 8 years, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation – a small nonprofit organization based in Charlotte – led the charge in state and federal court to fight huge companies like Duke Energy and ensure those responsible clean up the unlined coal ash pits along the Catawba River and three of her major lakes – Mountain Island Lake, Lake Norman, and Lake Wylie. See a timeline of our fight to protect the Catawba River from coal ash here.



Coal ash is essentially the powdery substance that’s left after burning coal. It can come in several forms, and is usually mixed with water and held in giant retaining ponds near coal-burning power plants.

Why is it dangerous?

Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals including arsenic, boron, lead, mercury, selenium, and chromium, many of which are known carcinogens. If coal ash isn’t managed and stored properly, those toxic contaminants can pollute streams, lakes and rivers, ground water, drinking water and the air we breathe.

Why is it a problem in North Carolina?

There are 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina, all of which are operated by Duke Energy. These plants use coal to heat water, then convert the resulting steam into electricity. After the coal is burned, coal ash is left behind, and for decades, it was stored in open, unlined water pits. The toxic chemicals in the coal ash can seep into the groundwater and spill into our lakes and rivers.

About the Catawba River and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Educate | Engage | Protect

The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation educates and advocates to protect the lakes, rivers and streams of the Catawba-Wateree River Basin.

Inundation Maps


NC Coal Ash Press Coverage Through the Years






Project Timeline